Trump thanks Putin for expelling US diplomats from Russia because it 'cuts US payroll'

The Russian leader responded to new sanctions by demanding the US cut its in-country staff 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Thursday 10 August 2017 22:34 BST
Donald Trump addresses the press at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club on 10 August 2017
Donald Trump addresses the press at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club on 10 August 2017 (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump has thanked President Vladimir Putin for expelling nearly 800 American diplomats from Russia because it allows the US to "cut down our payroll".

The US leader is on a 17-day "working vacation" at his own golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey and made the comments while addressing the press.

Mr Putin ordered the US to cut its foreign service staff by 755 people in an apparent responsive to new sanctions placed on Russia by the US Congress, which in turn were a response to Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“Over 1,000 employees — diplomats and technical workers — worked and continue to work today in Russia...[the cut] is biting," Mr Putin said in an interview on a state run television programme at the time.

But Mr Trump seemingly does not see it that way. "As far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll," he said, ignoring the fact that these people are government employees who will likely be assigned to another country or moved to a State Department office of some kind.

The State Department has not said these diplomats will be sacked.

Mr Trump also said there was "no real reason" for the diplomats to go back to serve in Russia and that the move is "going to save a lot of money" for the US.

The majority of the cuts according to the New York Times will be made to the US Embassy in Moscow, and the American consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok.

In order to make the staff cuts the State Department "will have to fire the Russian citizens,” Vladimir Frolov, a foreign affairs analyst and columnist, told the newspaper.

"It will create an enormous inconvenience for the US Mission here, essentially slowing down the work but not affecting its core functions."

Mr Trump also addressed Russia's interference in the 2016 election at the press conference, saying that he won the election himself without the help of Russia.

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